Monday, September 06, 2010

Oxford will not print another OED

This news actually made my chest clench in fear.

The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the language, will never be printed because of the impact of the internet on book sales.

Dictionaries are the canaries in the coalmine of civilisation.


Giancarlo said...

This just means they will keep updating their electronic version. You know all the advantages of the printed word, so I won't go into them here, but it is actually a lot faster to consult the electronic version. Cheaper to get too. I have the print version, but not here in Rome with me (graduation gift). Why? It would cost a fortune to ship!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Yes, this will indeed make the process of deconstruction of the English language much easier. So much easier to make things go down an electronic memory hole so that no one can look anything up that went before.

Destroy the past because no one can prove the past ever happened.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

But some day, the internet will be gone and we'll have to read books again.

May that day arrive soon and free the captives.

PCM said...

The (online) OED has "access" as a verb, by the way.

The internet has done great things for books, in particular, old (sometimes pretty rare) books in the public domain. It's simple enough to print and bind for personal use because you can learn how from the internet, too. The printing press did not kill off manuscript.

While the internet is ephemeral, so is the English language. Books will likely outlast our native tongue as we know it. But as much as I love Latin, I certainly don't wish for the death of the English language.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

"The (online) OED has "access" as a verb, by the way."


PCM said...

It was added in the 1989 second edition, so I imagine it's in print too.